Rafa Benitez has assessed the chances of Real Madrid and Liverpool in the Champions League final and can’t decide between his two former clubs.
The current Newcastle United manager believes the Champions League finalists have contrasting advantages with Real Madrid having the benefit of experience while Liverpool offer a greater intensity about their game.
Real have had to overcome some challenging moments, no less so than the remarkable fight back by Juventus in the quarter-final which required a late penalty to send Los Blancos through to the semi-finals. Liverpool meanwhile, have blitzed opponents scoring seven times at Porto in the round of 16 and putting five past Roma at Anfield in the semi-final.
Quoted in Marca, Benitez said: “It will be a very interesting final,” Benitez said. “Watching Madrid against Juventus and Bayern, you realise they have experience and quality, know how to manage difficult situations in games. … That is a plus.
“Liverpool, by contrast, have a lot of intensity, quality, rhythm. … The rhythm in the Premier League is above other leagues, and you saw that against Roma.”
Benitez doesn’t see a clear winner ahead of the game.
“Both could win,” he said. “The first goal will determine how the game develops. … I have a lot of respect for both sides. May the best team win.”
Benitez managed Liverpool for six years from 2004 to 2010 and led the club to their first European success since the famous sides of the 1980s. In a classic final against Inter Milan, the Merseysiders came from 3-0 behind at half time to level the score 3-3 in the space of six minutes before lifting the Champions League trophy on penalties.
His time at Real Madrid was much shorter. His three-year contract was terminated after only six months in January 2016 following a turbulent spell which included a 4-0 home defeat in El Clasico and Real Madrid being disqualified from the Copa Del Rey for fielding an ineligible player. Zinedine Zidane took over from Benitez and went on to win the Champions League and La Liga double with the same group of players.
Of his tie at Real Madrid, Benitez said: “In my final stage at Madrid, those who understand and analyse a little what goes on around the club know why what happened happened.
“It was not as bad as people think, as things were done very seriously and professionally. In any case, I have many years of good memories at Madrid.”
Former Real Madrid Coach Benitez is correct: Klopp and Zidane have the same football match philosophy and principles-attacking football with meaning mentality,but Zidane’s weakness is that is rigid on tactics/formation which robs off on the team.It is good that both coaches are rigid on principles,but it is good for Zidane, in this final on Saturday, to be flexible on tactics/formation(I sent this several times to Real Madrid’s & Zidane’s twitter handles-he didn’t change,but he/Real Madrid has been lucky-LUCK DOES NOT WIN EVERY TIME).
ILLUSRATION:Zidane has been using 4-3-3/4-4-2,but the weakness has been the defence line which is not fully disciplined in-spite of having Ramos and Marcelo as the best duo in the world.RECALL:What did Brazil in at the last world cup was the way they were left with 2 or 1 defender when 2&3 and/one of the central defenders venture forward . Recently,although Madrid did not need that match,Villareal shouldn’t have equalised .The villain in the defence is really CARVAJAL. With the quality of players on the RIGHT WING,I ,as a Real Madrid fan for the past 48 years since my primary school days in Nigeria,Benzema, Modrich both who being UTILITY players and attackers do help the defence,we do not need CARVAJAL/anybody playing the right back venturing forward.Not only this,CARVAJAL draws opponents into our box 18 unlike VARANE/NACHO.But with skillful forwards like SALAH, MANE &FIRMINO, we need 3 standing defenders with only more skillful MARCELO allowed to help the attack I’d like to illustrate this with a more flexible tactic of mass attack, mass defence .
Madrid has more quality players than CHELSEA,ARSENAL,JUVENTUS & ROMA for the tactical formation of 3-4-3/3-5-2.Chelsea learnt from the indiscipline of its 3 defenders during the two legs against Barcelona , although it was too late,defensive error led it to lose the top 4 after beating LIVERPOOL in the second leg of premiership.But it went ahead to beat MAN U with mass attack,mass defence tactical formation of 4-3-3 to win the FA CUP .Last season, CONTE & Chelsea won premiership after the formation was changed to 3-4-3.I agree that we were lucky against JUVENTUS & BAYERN MUNICH because we have more quality players both first 11 and on the bench.Madrid should learn from these matches like both legs of GUARDIOLA’s MAN CITY with more quality and experienced players than LIVERPOOL.Zidane and his players should study all matches involving Liverpool in the premiership and champions League.Even if Zidane wants to stick to 4-4-2 with which Madrid played the second leg of EL CLASICO with Barcelona that Madrid was lucky to have drawn,ONLY MARCELO SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO ATTACK.
ROMA applied 3-5-2 to beat BARCELONA 3:0 and oust it on away goal aggregate. Roma beat LIVERPOOL on the second leg 4:2 with the same tactical formation,but the final in KIEV is a different ball game with A LIVERPOOL THAT HAS THE EXPERIENCE OF THE GREATEST COME BACK IN THE HISTORY OF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE IN 2005 AGAINST AC MILAN SCORING 3 GOALS IN 6 MINUTES TO EQUALIZE 3:3 AND WINNING ON PENALTIES WITH BENITEZ AS THE COACH WHO LOST THE FINAL 2 YEARS LATER TO THE SAME MILAN 2:1 IN 2007 BECAUSE HE WAS RIGID ON TACTICS
NOW ON 3-4-3/3-5-2 TACTICAL FORMATION SUGGESTION TO ZIDANE IN THIS YEAR FINAL:I advise that BALE should start on the bench with RONALDO,BENZEMA AND ISCO as forwards ,MARCELO,as an attacking 11 as ALONSO in CHELSEA does,MODRICH ,the play maker as the attacking 10 ,CASEMIRO and KROOS as the holding midfielders.There should be 3 standing defenders at the backline with CARVAJAL starting on the bench,VARANE playing 2,NACHO playing 3 and RAMOS at the centre of the defence.In this mass attack,mass defence tactic,the 4 in the middle join the 3 forwards to massify the attack and join the defence when the opponents are on the offensive.OR in 3-5-2 , RONALDO &BENZEMA should be the twin strikers and ISCO plays 7 as an attacking midfielder,the play maker,MODRIC as 10 ,MARCELO plays 11, CASEMIRO and KROOS play as holding midfielders.The 5 in the midfield join the attack when Madrid is on the offensive and join the defence when opponents are on the offensive with NACHO playing 3, RAMOS at the centre and VARANE playing 2
IF Zidane sticks to 4-4-2 ,only MARCELO should be allowed to venture forward with NACHO,RAMOS as central defenders and VARANE starting as 2,the standing defenders.
FINALLY,Zidane and Madrid players should not allow LIVERPOOL to dictate the PACE of the match.Madrid should slow the tempo of the match because Liverpool runs a lot.